Greece is no longer mulling court action to win back the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum in London, Culture Minister Aristides Baltas said Tuesday, adding that the government would kick-start a diplomatic campaign to repatriate the 5th century BC statues.
Questioned by MPs during a session of Parliament’s education committee, Baltas said that the government was unwilling to put forward a legal claim “most importantly because we risk losing the case.”
The committee met to discuss a European Council directive on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a memberstate.
The leftist minister said that lawyer Amal Clooney and the Doughty Street Chambers legal team from London, who had been advising Athens on possible action in the international court to force the British Museum to hand over the Marbles, had already been compensated for their services.
Clooney, who is married to Hollywood star George Clooney, sparked a media frenzy during a visit to Athens for a meeting with then prime minister Antonis Samaras.
Baltas acknowledged the efforts made by the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, saying, “We now have more allies” in the country’s quest to reunite the ancient artifacts.
“This is upping the pressure, but the British Museum is resisting,” he said.
The Marbles were removed from the Parthenon temple in the 19th century by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin, who then sold them to the British government.
The British Museum has rejected calls to return the sculptures, saying that they were acquired by Elgin through a legitimate contract with the Ottoman Empire which ruled Greece at the time.